Asian TV coverage of Tower Hamlets mayor voting was biased—Ofcom
16:06 08 March 2011
Asian TV channels covering last October’s election for Mayor of Tower Hamlets have been ruled to be in breach if impartial coverage.
The broadcasters’ regulator Ofcom received complaints about the way Channel S and ATN Bangla TV transmitted interviews with candidates, often without rivals in the run-up to the voting.
Coverage of the election which gave Lutfur Rahman an overwhelming majority was not impartial, it ruled.
An independent translator viewed Bangla TV’s Jonotar Moncho programme and Ofcom found that the editions on September 30, October 6 and 9 featured Helal Abbas and Lutfur Rahman, but only Lutfur Rahman on October 13 and only Abbas on October 5 and 14.
Bangla TV’s response was that it had accommodated the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates in “clearly linked and timely programmes.” But it did not comment on the news bulletins despite repeated requests, according to Ofcom.
Ofcom concluded that Bangla TV was in breach of impartiality rules, which will be held on record and may be taken into account should any future broadcast licence application be received if the company is not eventually liquidated, or from individuals associated with the company.
Bangla TV (Worldwide), the Channel S licensee, is being wound up under the 1986 Insolvency Act following a High Court ruling on November 9, and is no longer broadcasting.
Ofcom’s investigation into complaints about ATN Bangla Europe found that the channel featured on October 8 Tory Neil King, Labour’s Helal Abbas and independent Lutfur Rahman, but no others.
It had just Helal Abbas and Lutfur Rahman on October 18, with no mention of the others.
Response from ATN Bangla Europe News was that it offered all candidates the same opportunity to take part—but was considered by Ofcom to have breached its impartiality rule.